Miami International Airport is abuzz with dozens of cargo and ramp workers in protest of their employer. They patrol the terminals, carrying signs as they chant “Sí se puede,” which means “Yes, we can.“ Their grievance is that Euler America provides a less than adequate working environment.
The protestors attest to being forced to work without breaks, toiling away on the searing tarmac with no access to water. Further complaints include malfunctioning or outright broken equipment the workers themselves had to repair with whatever means were available to them.
Cockroach infestations, lack of sick days or paid vacations, and punishment for objecting to any of the above were also mentioned. Furthermore, Eulen had them working in partial shifts, which were often subject to change at the whim of the company.
Eulen America Investigation
Eulen America is a private contractor that had already been under fire from the media beforehand. An investigation by CBS Miami revealed that the company had been hiring recently immigrated Latin Americans. These individuals then had to endure the aforementioned conditions. Eulen, it seems, has done little to change this policy since then.
At the time of writing, Eulen is under investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. According to the Service Employees International Union, strikes are taking place in both MIA and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Lester Sola, Miami-Dade Aviation Department’s director, stated that the MDAD continues to keep an eye on Eulen and work on improving the state the indignant employees have to suffer. He also said that Eulen had produced an action plan meant to alleviate the issues raised by the workers.
While the plan makes no mention of shifts or paid days off, it claims it will provide new vehicles by August 2019. It also promises a bulletin board for future complaints that employees will be able to use.
Politicians Joining the Rally
The strike saw support from several political figures, both local and beyond. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, this term’s Democratic presidential candidate attended the protest and joined its ranks. He expressed his outrage at what the workers had undergone. He states that the minimum wage ought to be raised to $15 per hour. Eulen pays its employees $13.23 an hour (health insurance included).
Beyond Booker, attendees to the strike include Bill De Blasio, the mayor of New York City, Florida state senators Jose Javier Rodríguez and Annette Taddeo, and U.S. Representative Tim Ryan.
De Blasio gave a speech, wherein he advised the workers to unionize. At the end of the speech, however, he uttered the following words: “Hasta la victoria, siempre,” meaning “Ever onward to victory.” The crowd thought nothing of it at the time. But those words were synonymous with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a much-disdained figure in Columbian-filled Miami. De Blasio later apologized for what was considered a poor choice of words.